Conveyance Precise Wording Takes Precedence Over Red Line on Plan


A conveyance normally includes both a visual plan and a written description of the land that is to change hands – but what happens if there is a conflict between the two? The Upper Tribunal (UT) addressed that vital issue in a guideline case.

The case concerned a small plot of land that formed part of a rural lane. In seeking to have it registered in his name, the owner of adjoining farmland argued that his grandfather had obtained title to it by a conveyance signed in 1918 and that it had since passed to him by way of inheritance.

In objecting to the farmer’s application, a neighbour relied on a plan that formed part of the conveyance. He pointed out that a red line on the plan, which was intended to indicate precisely the boundaries of the land that was being conveyed, clearly did not encompass the disputed plot.

For his part, the farmer relied on a handwritten schedule to the conveyance which specified the area of the land to be conveyed to within a thousandth of an acre. The schedule clearly indicated that the disputed plot did form part of the land conveyed. In upholding the neighbour’s case, however, the First-tier Tribunal found that the plan took precedence over the schedule.

Ruling on the farmer’s challenge to that outcome, the UT noted that the plan was expressed in the conveyance to be not merely indicative but to ‘more particularly delineate’ the land conveyed. Given the use of that phrase, the plan would normally trump the written wording of the schedule in the event of a conflict between the two.

Upholding the appeal, however, the UT noted that, when it comes to interpreting a conveyance, judges may in certain circumstances look beyond the four corners of the document itself and take into account extrinsic evidence. In this case, such evidence pointed overwhelmingly in favour of the schedule prevailing.

The farmer’s grandfather had contracted to purchase the land, including the disputed plot, prior to formal execution of the conveyance. He had at that point become the plot’s beneficial owner and was contractually entitled to call for it to be conveyed to him. It would have been surprising to say the least had that not occurred. He had also subsequently granted a right of way over the plot, something he could only have done if he owned it.

The UT found that, on its true interpretation, the conveyance was effective to transfer title to the disputed plot to the farmer’s grandfather. The farmer having inherited that title, the UT directed the chief land registrar to register him as the plot’s proprietor.

Contact Ian Sheppard on 08081668827 for expert advice on any matters relating to land and boundary disputes.

Contact us for more information

Share this article
Subscribe to our newsletter